Kota: Even as the rest of the north of the country bears with an unforgiving summer season and a drought-like situation in many of its parts, in Rajasthan, grain rot continues and it is not a meager amount. Nearly Rs 2 crore worth of wheat still remains in the open.
CNN-IBN visited a farmer family in Kota which had just enough grain to last it four weeks.
The irony is that the family had a bumper harvest this year. Earlier this month, they had taken the crop to Kota to sell it to Food Corporation of India. But just before the purchase, rains caught the FCI officials napping and the grain was left in the open, rotting.
Said Mangiram, the farmer, "I lost almost my entire crop to the rain… and I already have too much debt to borrow more money for seeds."
Now, the angry farmers can neither get the support price promised by the FCI, nor can they sell the grain in the open market.
At the FCI godown, where the rains sent the farmers' hard work down the drain two weeks back, the smell of rotting grains and the government neglect make it unbearable. The wheat is all caked up, rotting and smelly.
Flies and dogs are feeding on what was meant for human consumption. Efforts to cover up the grain is half-hearted. Single polythene sheets now cover about sixty per cent of the wheat, while forty per cent of it is still lying in open. And there's more wheat on the way to be stored.
Rajasthan bought nearly 20 lakh metric tonnes of wheat this year, but it has storage space for only 12 lakh metric tonnes. And 40 per cent of that space is already used to store wheat from Punjab and Haryana.
Even more shocking was the blatant denial by the state food minister about the continuing grain rot in the state. Parsadi Lal Meena, the Rajasthan Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, had said that not a single grain had rotten at the FCI godown. When shown the proof, he simply blamed the Corporation.
"The responsibility to buy it, to store it is that of the FCI… The state has no responsibility," he had said.
Meanwhile, FCI officials refused to speak on camera what arrangement had been made to store the remaining grain. And caught between the politics and the rot in the system are farmers who have no one to complain to.